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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"


has grown out of his experiments in the establishment of an ideal
school in connection with his pedagogical work in the university
of Chicago.

The University Laboratory School, founded by Dewey in 1896,
was intended by him to prepare the way for the school of the
future. The ordinary schools, it seemed to him, had failed to
keep up with the extraordinary changes wrought in the structure
of society by the Industrial Revolution. They served their genera-
tion well enough when the majority of people were country
dwellers, but they had done little to make good the grave loss
of educational opportunities which the spread of towns had
brought to the child. The fundamental fact in the situation,
as Dewey saw it, was the breakdown of the old family life and the
disappearance of the simple village community. The modern
child, he points out, lives in a world of manufactured goods and
has only a vague idea of how they came into being. He never
sees cloth till he sees it in the form of clothes, nor foodstuffs till
they appear on the table. The house in which he lives is illuminated
by gas that lights on the application of a match, or by electricity
that only needs a button to be pressed. The country child a
half-century ago was more fortunate in his daily experiences.
He saw in the immediate neighbourhood of his own home all the
processes of cloth-making from the shearing of the sheep to the
working of the loom ; and instead of pressing a button and flood-
ing the house with electric light, the whole process of getting
illumination was followed in its toilsome length from the killing
of the animal and the trying of the fat to the making of wicks and
the dipping of candles. His ordinary life was consequently of
much greater educational worth, both on the intellectual and on
the moral side, than that of the child of to-day. By sharing in the
work of the home, he built up mind and character, without any
consciousness of effort. The motives for learning, now con-
spicuous by their absence, were present in abundance in the daily

So far the schools of all countries have failed to take account of
this change of educational environment. The traditions of an
earlier age, when education was a luxury for the few, have lingered
on in them, The old bookwork subjects continue the staple
materials of instruction, and the class rooms are built for lecturing
and listening* The unvarying fixed desks are typical of the system.